Despite working and writing, both Elisa and I spend a fair amount of our time looking for interesting games. We first heard of Heart. Papers. Border. on Facebook, while browsing a group used by indie developers to share ideas and promote their work.
Intrigued, we left a comment and asked the team for more info. The two guys were kind enough to send us a key – they actually sent us one each – and invited us to write about their early-access project. A few hours of gameplay later, here we are with our opinion!
Nothing Short of Gorgeous
The first thing we noticed, just after we reached the main menu, was the game’s peculiar style. Graphics and art seem perfect for the task at hand. Heart. Papers. Border. – the optimistic strategy title about changing the world through travelling and blogging – immediately feels appealing and pleasant.
Colors and shapes seamlessly dance on the screen, shining light and happiness straight into the player’s eyes. The developers chose a world that looks similar to our own, yet managed to somehow make it unique and intriguing. I was captivated by the carefully crafted icons and the clean UI, surprisingly well made for a group that just started working on their first IP.
I said it to my colleagues, I’ll say it again to our readers. Regardless of how much it costs me, I must get my hands on this title’s soundtrack. The music featured in Heart. Papers. Border. is so good that I find describing it extremely difficult.
All I know is that I want it, I want it now, and I’ll probably start banging my fists on the desk like a spoiled brat if I’m told that it’s not for sale.
Get the Retro Brothers on the line, throwing money at the screen isn’t as effective as I thought.
That said, some minor issues with these assets still caught my attention. While travelling on water, for instance, my character was shown riding a car. Similarly, tracks from the playlist seem to be selected at random. The latter might be a great way to keep things fresh, but often ends up ruining the mood!
A Slightly Simplistic Approach To Influencer Marketing
As a full-time content creator, I was rather disappointed by the way the blogging mechanics work. According to the game, you are a freelance writer who visits different parts of the world and shares their opinions over the internet. As the years go by, you eventually build a reputation and are able to influence your readers‘ behavior and ethics. I understand the optimistic approach to this matter, but some design choices made no apparent sense to me.
The writing process boils down to choosing a set of hashtags from a list. Tags are color-coded, but I still couldn’t find a clear description of the pros and cons for each group. Not that it really matters, since each of said tags will be gone after a single use. Fortunately, exploring new landmarks and meeting new cultures unlocks additional options. You will also have to obtain visas, travel to completely new countries, and complete a few quests if you want to succeed.
The consequences of such massive socialization efforts were all a bit too sugary for my taste. I’ve seen companies fail because of an inappropriate article, yet – no matter the combination of topics you pick – you will always gain a handful of followers. Your posts are also going to yield substantial amounts of cash from day one; an outcome that I’m sincerely jealous of!
While I can accept this happy-go-lucky representation of social media, I still have a question for the devs: why would bad connectivity affect the number of people who read an online document? Are we actually writing the post or is our entire career about live-streaming? “Verba volant, scripta manent“, my high-school professor used to say. No matter the time it takes to reach the server, that post is still going to be available.
Perhaps the guys behind Heart. Papers. Border. thought about local crowds when they designed this feature. Do the people on Heart all speak the same language and belong to the same social circles? That would explain why folks in underdeveloped countries wouldn’t be able to access an established blog. Former followers still would, though.
Yet again, perhaps Jovian Industries simply wasn’t aiming for a realistic experience to begin with!
Enough With The Chatting! Yay or Nay?!
By all means, yay! Abso-fuckin-lutely yeah! If you haven’t bought your copy already, stop what you’re doing – namely reading my ramblings – and go get one! Heart. Papers. Border. might not be the next 4X instant-classic, but still offers plenty of fun!
From a purely academic and narrative standpoint, for instance, it shows the world how delicate issues such as immigration and cultural conflict should be addressed rather than avoided. The alt-history plot touches exactly the buttons it needs to leave you both impressed and to encourage critical thinking.
As with all early-access titles, though, keep in mind that things are bound to change. Unlike others, these people actually want to see what their game will look like once it’s ready. Additionally, the 7,99 USD that they’re asking you would barely suffice to buy the soundtrack! If you’re on a tight budget, rest assured: price-wise, this game is totally worth it!
The development team is also extremely open to suggestions, both on Facebook and on their dedicate Steam forums. For the cost of a Happy Meal, you’d be able to help a bunch of young developers. Buy it, play the hell out of it, and share your opinions just like we just did! Together, we’ll be able to craft just the experience that we always wanted to play!